(CNN) - Strong support by Catholic voters in Ohio appears to be one reason why Mitt Romney is now deadlocked with Rick Santorum, according to a new survey released one day before the state holds its Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that it's a dead heat between Romney and Santorum, with both the former Massachusetts governor and the former senator from Pennsylvania each grabbing 32% of likely GOP primary voters in Ohio. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 14%, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 11%.
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"The surprise is that the Catholic candidate, Santorum, is losing the Catholic vote," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Ohio Catholics who are likely to vote on Super Tuesday, 39% back Romney compared to 33% who support Santorum. Santorum has an advantage among Protestants by a 35%-to-29% margin."
Romney's advantage among Catholics is within the sampling error. Last week exit polls in neighboring Michigan indicated Romney had an advantage with Catholic voters in that state as well. Both Michigan and Ohio have sizeable Catholic populations.
The CNN/ORC survey is the fifth released over the past day and a half to indicate that it's all tied up in Ohio. Surveys released a week ago suggested that Santorum led Romney, but they were conducted before Romney's large victory last Tuesday in Arizona and his edging out of Santorum to win his native Michigan.
"Ohio is yet another state in which Republican primary voters are split ideologically," says Holland. Romney has an 18-point advantage among moderates, while Santorum is up by eight among conservatives."
Sixty-three delegates are up for grabs Tuesday in Ohio, one of 10 states to hold contests on Super Tuesday. Although more delegates are at stake in Georgia, Ohio is arguably the most crucial of the states holding a Super Tuesday contest because of its status as a major general election battleground, and both Romney and Santorum have campaigned hard to take the state.
But Georgia is crucial for Gingrich, who's said repeatedly over the past week that he needs to win the state. Gingrich represented Georgia's sixth congressional district for two decades.
The poll indicates Gingrich is enjoying home field advantage, with a 23 point lead over Romney in the state. Gingrich is at 47% among likely GOP primary voters, with Romney at 24%, Santorum at 15% and Paul at 9%. Other recent surveys in Georgia also indicated Gingrich with a double digit lead.
Two-thirds of people questioned in Georgia said they were definitely backing the candidate they are currently supporting, with three in ten saying they may change their minds, and 5% unsure or not supporting a candidate.
In Ohio, 53% said they were committed to the candidate they are currently backing, with 37% saying they could change their minds, with one in ten either unsure or not backing a candidate.
Besides being a crucial primary state, Ohio is also an extremely important battleground state in the general election. According to the poll, 49% of Ohio registered voters would back President Barack Obama in November, with 45% supporting an unnamed Republican nominee.
In Georgia, which has been a reliable Republican state in presidential contests, the poll indicates Obama deadlocked at 48% against the eventual GOP nominee.
The CNN poll in Ohio was conducted by ORC International, with 1,825 registered voters, including 546 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Ohio GOP primary, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.
The CNN poll in Georgia was conducted by ORC International, with 1,775 registered voters, including 527 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Georgia GOP primary, questioned by telephone.
The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.
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The only thing that keeps catholics voting republican is abortion. The typical catholic doesn't care about birth control or secular gay marriage. The Democratic party has thrown away a lot of votes by making pro-choice a non negotiable within their platform.
Romney will be the Republican candidate, and Obama will beat him. When it's all over, I will be back on here saying, "Ha, ha, HA!" These clowns are just wasting their time and money. Obama/Biden 2012!
I'm a fallen away Catholic. Romney has my vote. The other Republicans are all good men, but too far to the right. We need someone who can turn our economy around so jobs will come back to our country and people can have self respect and stability in their lives!
Folks, let Obama go!!! He is going to be far, far wealthier than Romney once he hits the lecture/speech circuit!!! (Clinton has done very well) Being president is no fun, look how gray his hair has gotten! I'm serious, and not trying to be sarcastic at all!
This country is a mess with the housing fiasco, so many people living beyond their means! I grew up dirt poor, but always lived within my means.
Catholics need to go to You Tube and look for the film that was banned by the Mormon Church. They would see what a crazy belief system this man belongs to. I am Catholic and would never vote for Romney. All this before I even start to look at Romney's flipflopping.
The more I look at Mitt the more I like him. He's startin' to look pretty hot and like the man to beat. I've sending him money right now!
CONSERVATIVES today are not true conservatives anymore.... they are HYPOCRITES
They are only pondering for your votes. DONT VOTE for the religious issues... this is why there is separation of state and church.
Why is Mormonism less credible than Christianity? I mean as a Christian you believe a dude rose from the dead, talked to some people, then flew up into the sky to go to Heaven like he was beamed up by Scotty. Sorry, your belief is just as stupid and cult like as Mormonism.
Mc cain won catholics woman in 2008 but lost general election to Obama. so what is you point.
I don't believe in the divineness of Joseph Smith, the golden plates he dug up in New York, nor the Mormon belief of where the actual Garden of Eden is located, therefore, I don't believe in Mitt Ronmey, nor the special undergarments he chooses to wear.
The hissing sound you hear is the nation's remaining respect for Ohio leaking away.
it does not surprise me that catholics are moving away from santorum. his religious ideas bring us back to the 1600's when witches were burned at the stake.
Catholics can support Romney but lets be realistic....... BLACKS & HISPANICS WOMEN will NOT SUPPORT Romney.
Do you see any blacks, hispanics, orientals in Romney's audience? or Santorum's audience??? NOPE
I find this amazing that he is this far ahead. People don't know or just tend to forget that this guy was the governor of MA when the "Big Dig" was going on. You all remember that 15 BILLION dollar federal buy out on the tunnel complex for Boston. You will hear he had nothing to do with the cost overrun but he was the governor of the state during that time now how is he not responsible for it? Makes me wonder what else he will not be responsible for if he is elected?
Catholics who support Romney are really Mormon.
well all you mitt voting catholics prepare to get baptised into the mormon church. You will be offically on the roll.
Wilbur "Mitt" Romney has the personality of a dial tone. He is desperately lacking in leadership qualities, and he is cowardly when it comes to Rush Limbaugh.
"The surprise is that the Catholic candidate, Santorum, is losing the Catholic vote." LOL! This is no surprise. Catholics know a papist when they see one.
oh dominican mama you are a phoney and not the real deal. just a lying repo in disguise.
Wait...isn't Santorum Catholic?
Santorum is scary. He is a good protest vote for the ignorant, but he will never be elected.
a Catholic supporting a Mormon? goodness! what is this world coming to? .......I know it's means faux christianity! unfortunately not surprising. Many so call religious Americans have been practicing a fake version of Christianity for a while now.
A true believer of the bible will NEVER support a Mormon because the teachings in the Book of Mormons are very different to what the Holy Bible ascribes to. Some are just outright creepy and anti Christianity if you ask me.
Baptism of the dead, seer stones, multiple levels of heavens... just a few things that are very different to core Christian beliefs.
Not too much of a surprise: most Catholics don't take their religion *that* seriously.
I hope in all the open primary states the democrats vote for Santorum. What an easy victory Obama will have. Obama will still win over Romney but not as much as Santorum. Romney only has good looks going for him and his money but he is an open flip flopper and belongs to a cult. How can anyone believe Joseph Smith received gold tablets from the archangel Gabriel that gave us the Book of Mormon. Yeah Jesus Christ preached to the American Indians in Utah. When do Mormons denounced Birgham Young that polygamist who raped young girls and lead massacres in Utah. Obama is the man who killed Osama Bin Laden something liar Bush never was able to accomplish. Republicans stop supporting Christian Right ideology. We do not need a theocracy.
Catholics don't want to vote Catholics into office. Being a catholic, I ask: Why would anyone vote a Catholic into public office knowing that if they don't follow Catholic beliefs, they will be punished by the church. I believe in God, and worship with the Catholic church, but I don't believe in all of their teachings, especially birth control.
What happend to the God the Father Santorum? I thought he a Catholic? Even Catholics don't like Santorum. Maybe because they Google Santorum (Google Santorum) and find out why Catholics don't like him.